Taiwan and China reunited

Well, not quite but they’re certainly heading that way. The economic crisis is pushing them closer together and making what just a few years ago would have seemed like very strange bedfellows.

China offered 130 billion yuan ($19 billion) of loans for Taiwan companies operating on the mainland as the ruling parties of both governments laid out proposals to boost financial ties.

Beijing would provide the financing over three years and also purchase $2 billion worth of flat-panel displays from the island’s companies, Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, said at the conclusion of a weekend forum.

The meeting between officials of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang and their Chinese counterparts sets a blueprint for further government-level talks after a nine-year suspension. Taiwanese businessmen have invested an estimated $150 billion in China and are clamoring for the island’s financial firms to be permitted to offer services to ease access to funding and capital.

“Cooperation at this time is especially meaningful as the global financial crisis will soon spread to the manufacturing industry,” said Schive Chi, chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange. “As both China and Taiwan have few foreign debts and both have high savings ratio, we should really actively use up the huge savings to help boost our economies.”

Comb through the article to see just how extensive the cooperation is, and what it will mean for Taiwan businesses that have invested huge amounts in China and are now being hit hard by the crash.

What is significant to me is the tone of the dialogue on both sides (“The consensus reflects the expectation from people from the two sides and will have an active influence over the policy- making of the governments of both sides,” said Jia Qinglin, a Chinese Communist Party Politburo member.”) You would never have read an article like this just a year or two ago. They sound like two lovers separated by a war who have just re-found one another.

Like it or not, this is one more milestone in a new era of increasing cooperation and mutual dependency, and it’s only going to intensify. Will they reunite and live happily ever after as one? Not anytime soon, and maybe never. But it’s a stake in the heart of the Taiwan independence movement, for better or for worse. Whether independence is a noble goal or not is irrelevant. All that matters is reality, and the reality is that Taiwan and the PRC are moving closer together, and that will carry enough advantages for all sides to keep independence off the table.

Staying in touch with many of my friends in Taiwan, I know that only one thing matters right now, and that is the economy and the jobs that come with it. If they see this as step toward economic improvement, the enthusiasm over the independence movement, which has already sagged dramatically, is dead in the water. A pity perhaps, but there we are.

They might keep up the old arguments about which pinyin to use and how Taiwan should be referred to by Google Earth, etc., but if the Taiwanese and the Chinese see the relationship as economically mutually beneficial, they’ll happily go along. There’s a reason regular direct flights between Shanghai and Taipei started a few weeks ago. Tough times call for pragmatism. And times haven’t been this tough for Taiwan for decades.

This is just the start. Once we begin to emerge from the crisis in four or five years, expect to see a whole new world order of alliances and agreements, and a whole new balance of power. Yes, America will still be up there at the tippy top, but it won’t be there alone and it won’t carry the weight it did from the end of WWII to 2001.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 63 Comments

Simple analysis, but interesting. This is good news for the Taiwan fat cats.. Let’s see now how it will resonate with the populace…

It’s not because the elite is coming closer to China that this means they have the popular support. Not at all.

Revolutions and confrontations comes from the mass, not from the elite.

And now we are coming to a time in our world (globally), where the mass will speak out, loudly.

2009.

December 22, 2008 @ 1:32 am | Comment

Personally I would say that tough times call for more, not less, resolve to do what one thinks is best. Otherwise you risk making decisions that are bad in the long-term even if they’re easier for the moment. Of course that doesn’t mean people don’t do what’s easier! But I don’t see that there is necessarily a price to be paid for normalised economic ties, even if some fear it. It’s not as if they weren’t close before the start of this year.

It will be interesting to see what happens if or when talks get political. Who will seek discussion of it first – China or Taiwan? What if one side (most probably Taiwan) says no?

December 22, 2008 @ 1:41 am | Comment

Let’s see how Iraq or the Muslim world would feel if the US would give them a Teddy Bear to suck on, to comfort them and forget the past.

This is beyond ridiculous… Almost shameful. What a stupid and naive political strategy. Pathetic to say the least.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7794572.stm

“Taiwan prepares for the arrival of two pandas from China, saying it is ready to accept a gift the opposition has called a propaganda ploy…”

Poor baby, you look very angry, here, I share with you my Teddy Bear, do you feel better? I could also give you a piece of mirror, you’ll see, it’s shinning, it’s very special. Now gimme your gold (and soul), worthless piece of rocks.

December 22, 2008 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Well, Bao, that is a fair point – I have never understood why China/some Chinese people think that pandas can make up for the isolation and military threats that China has forced on Taiwan. Not to say that the pandas should not go to Taiwan, but if China really wants to reconcile with Taiwan in the fullest way possible it will need to make real concessions in the future.

Those 1,000+ missiles, for example, really do cause problems. China should not think that it can keep its arsenal, let alone expand it, and not restrict how and when relations can improve.

December 22, 2008 @ 1:55 am | Comment

I’d like to coin in the following sentence, and who knows, given the current economical and political context, it might become popular one day.

“China is, was, and will always be part of the world”

No Google count yet…

That goes a bit in the same bag as the recent research that was made about the “hurt feelings of the Chinese people”…

Gimme credits when it comes out, if ever… ;)

December 22, 2008 @ 2:13 am | Comment

what i don’t understand is why economic cooperation is somehow a sign of the two being united. i believe there’s quite a bit of economic cooperation going on between the EU countries, and between the US and Canada, but I don’t see any of those individual countries somehow giving up their sovereignty as a result. i’m sure the CCP sees this as a way to get the foot in the door and go from there, but i think Taiwanese politicians need to be on the lookout and realize that this should be a strictly economic cooperation and nothing more.

also, i found this to be rather amusing and almost ridiculous-sounding: Beijing would provide the financing over three years and also purchase $2 billion worth of flat-panel displays from the island’s companies

December 22, 2008 @ 4:22 am | Comment

deleted

December 22, 2008 @ 5:49 am | Comment

Let’s see now how it will resonate with the populace

What happens to Taiwan is for all 1.3billion Chinese people to decide – not just the 23million on Taiwan itself. If some of these Taiwanese want independence then they are traitors so their opinions count for naught.

December 22, 2008 @ 5:54 am | Comment

but if China really wants to reconcile with Taiwan in the fullest way possible it will need to make real concessions in the future.

Raj – [deleted - and don't use language like that again]. China by countenancing the current state of affairs has already conceded massively. What do you want Raj? For China to just let Taiwan go its merry way and confirm its status as Japanese and American proxy? Fact is Taiwan is part of China, regardless of what any Taiwanese may think.

The pro-independence crowd are a bunch of pro-Japanese traitors and stooges and running dogs anyway (many of the forerunners served Japan in WWII including that faggot Lee Tenghui – whose brother incidentally was killed in the Phillipines fighting for the Japanese Imperial Army).

In fact I hope Taiwan (and Tibet) up the ante over this independence bullshit.
China will then have all the excuse she needs to crush the traitors and all their male relatives (the women of course will be spared to service the needs of true patriots).

As for Japan we should develope a bomb that kills only Japanese males and then send the PLA over there and fuck all that Japanese pussy. And then these Jap bitches can be awarded to Chinese village lads in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia.

And any white man that so much as leers at an Asian woman? That is death for him and all his relatives to the ninth degree of consanguinity – that probably means death for virtually all white posters here -hahahahaha

[deleted - one more obscene comment and you are banned]

December 22, 2008 @ 6:11 am | Comment

We have a new troll, it appears. For all his seething hatred of whites and Americans, China Can Say No is posting comfortably from his padded celldorm in Illinois.

Update: I was going to give him a second chance, then I saw some of his earlier comments. He is gone. Incredibly obscene.

December 22, 2008 @ 8:20 am | Comment

Raj: Personally I would say that tough times call for more, not less, resolve to do what one thinks is best.

It all depends on how you define what is best. Morally best? Best for the immediate, short-term economy? Best for the future even if it means significant immediate pain? Because right now, across the board, nearly everybody is throwing out the long-term “bests” for the short-term “bests” – i.e., reducing pollution standards, creating jobs (some of questionable value), printing money, etc. I suspect for most Taiwanese, what is “best” is having a job and knowing there’ll be some opportunities. It makes total sense that in a time of financial crisis they would think less about missiles and more about food on the table. The missiles, which have been there for many years, are much more abstract than money. Most people in Taiwan lead pretty normal and good lives with very time left spent thinking about the missiles. Of course, the missiles shouldn’t be there and China’s apoplectic reaction to all things in Taiwan, at least in the past, is deranged. But if relations continue to improve along with the prospects for a better tomorrow, the missiles will become even more abstract, and will probably even be removed.

December 22, 2008 @ 8:41 am | Comment

lensovet, you’re right of course – this is not a story about the two uniting, as I explain in the first sentence. But it is about the two moving closer and becoming more mutually dependent. It’s a story about a new language, and language is nearly everything in politics and government. The fact that they are talking like this signals a definite warming and all signs lead to some form of reconciliation. Reconciliation, not co-joining as a single country. Not any time soon, at least.

December 22, 2008 @ 8:45 am | Comment

I find the getting so excited about Taiwan and China reconciling and becoming mutually dependent a bit daft. Their economies have been MASSIVELY mutually dependent for. . . I don’t know. . . going on decades really. Moreover, much of this occurred under the DPP.

Economic hard times mean they suddenly have to get together? Crap. . .

December 22, 2008 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

So what is also not said: in pleasing China for Chinese loan and its market, the U.S. also dissed an obvious long term ally, Taiwan, for much of the last 10 years. This has truly become a shame, for not only the U.S. economy hasn’t really benefited from the tie with PRC, its agenda for human rights and democracy in the Pacific are now seen widely as disingenuous and failure.
There really are a lot of repentance and reflection to be done. I, for one, has felt truly sorry for our nation’s many misjudgment and arrogance.

December 22, 2008 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

How can Taiwan ‘reunite’ with China when Taiwan was never a part of China to start with…or, if you REALLY want to count the Manchus as ‘China’, the relationship ended now well over a century ago and a renewal of it isn’t desired by the vast majority on one side of the issue? Economic cooperation is nice for everyone, but a trading agreement between Britain and the United States doesn’t mean Britain is about to become the 51st state.

Unless, that is, the United States is diplomatically isolating Britain and threatening to invade if they should ever suggest they have an independent identity. That might spur things towards ‘reunification.’ As to why any sane person would respond to that particular approach to ‘reunification’ with anything but horror and contempt, I have no idea.

December 22, 2008 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

Richard

Best for the future even if it means significant immediate pain?

More like that, yes.

Because right now, across the board, nearly everybody is throwing out the long-term “bests” for the short-term “bests”

Many people, though in the UK there has been a lot of suspicion over the government’s “stimulus” package. It is rightly seen as a cynical waste of money, even if only by a large minority. People across the political spectrum have supported a certain number of bailouts and extra spending/tax cuts, it’s just how they’re used that leads to disagreements.

I suspect for most Taiwanese, what is “best” is having a job and knowing there’ll be some opportunities. It makes total sense that in a time of financial crisis they would think less about missiles and more about food on the table.

“Selling” parts of Taiwanese sovereignty/independence won’t buy prosperity or jobs – not that I am suggesting you have ever supported that. There will become a point where the economy becomes as open as it can and short of China directly subsidising Taiwanese it will have no more to offer. If many Chinese get their way, as they demand freedom of movement (ironic given hukou in China) as part of reunification, that would allow Chinese to compete with Taiwanese for jobs and unemployment would increase.

If Taiwanese are able to make decisions that are best for them in the future then they will need to ensure that their futures and that of their children are not sold short. This isn’t about principle, it’s about necessity. So what it boils down to is information and countering the propaganda that unification will bring some heaven-like prosperity (as if Taiwan were poor) if only Taiwan will drop to its knees and kiss China’s feet. It won’t make things automatically better and done from a position of weakness would probably give Taiwan the raw end of the deal.

But if relations continue to improve along with the prospects for a better tomorrow, the missiles will become even more abstract, and will probably even be removed.

For the short-term that is true, but when political relations are broached that can’t be postponed. The missiles are just part of it. The repeated bashing in the Chinese media and from government officials of Taiwanese independence (which if I were Taiwanese would take as an attack on my right to general freedom and independence from the State) is another example. Is China really suddenly going to get nice when the economics are mostly dealt with, or is it going to think it can have its cake and eat it?

December 22, 2008 @ 6:27 pm | Comment

中国 可以说不

*Yawn*….

Her’s a Christmas gift for you, two links:

An obviously very needed friend for you (no need to thank me):
http://www.jabberwacky.com/

Refresh often and combine with the previous link
http://www.swearalot.com/

That should keep you busy for a while, and hopefully for all of us you’ll forget about this blog…

December 22, 2008 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

Bao, he’s gone again, and will be deleted whenever he posts. Apologies for the gross obscenities.

Hong Xiuquan, time will tell, but I am not the only one who’s noticed changes in the language and the actions of both countries (or of the one country and it’s colony, or whatever). I mean, there really ARE direct flights now from Shanghai to Taipei. And they really ARE talking about their need to watch out for one another. Quite different from when I lived in Taipei a mere two years ago.

Raj, don’t get too upset as Taiwan and the PRC move closer together. Is it good? Is it what I want? Not really. Personally, I wish Taiwan could be independent and prosperous. Are they going to move closer together anyway, mainly based on mutual self-interest? Definitely. Just like I told you McCain didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell once he picked Palin. You have to learn to trust my wisdom.

December 22, 2008 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

The mistake you’re making, I think, is to assume a warming of economic ties is going to somehow make the Taiwanese more susceptible to political capitulation. Because there are direct flights from Taipei to Shanghai, Taiwanese are gradually going to forget that their country has been systematically threatened, bullied, and isolated by China and slowly but surely be absorbed into the fold of a corruption-ridden dictatorship that’s treated them absolutely miserably for years? Why would they, exactly? Do you really have that low of an opinion of Taiwanese, willing to sell self-respect and dignity and freedom for the promise that maybe snuggling up to the Chinese will help protect them from the world economic slump?

I would guess nearly all Taiwanese, even the independence-minded, would like normalized, peaceful relations with China. If China were to declare tomorrow that Taiwan has a right to determine it’s own status, tensions would end overnight. If normalized relations are ever to be established, then, it will have to come from the Chinese side, and in the form of greater recognition for the self-determination of the Taiwanese people, preferably couched in some face-saving form to avoid the Chinese government being consumed by the very nationalistic BS they themselves have fostered for so long. Otherwise, no number of direct flights or pandas or economic ties will erase the fact that China is a large country threatening a small country with war if it should ever truly exercise it’s right to determine it’s own fate.

Are most of your Taiwanese friends in Taipei, btw? The political environment can be quite different as you go farther south.

December 22, 2008 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

The mistake you’re making, I think, is to assume a warming of economic ties is going to somehow make the Taiwanese more susceptible to political capitulation.

I never said political capitulation. Never. I said the two are being drawn closer together and that this will be welcomed by most, at least in the short term. I said there will increased dependency and cooperation. Repeat, I never, ever said this would lead to political capitulation. I lived in Taiwan nearly two years and know the people there would never stand for it, unless China is allowed to be ruled out of Taipei.

Nearly all of my Taiwanese friends are in Taipei. And most of them are very liberal, tending to the green side. Most are also pragmatic, and see some obvious benefit from increased cooperation. Not, however, capitulation.

If my histrionic headline made you think I honestly believe they will be “reunited” politically (an impossibility, as they never were politically united), apologies.

December 22, 2008 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

You don’t describe it as political capitulation, but you describe it as a ‘stake in the heart of the Taiwanese independence movement’, which seems to imply that either Taiwan’s independence is in danger from current developments or that being in favor of Taiwanese independence is inextricably linked with bitter hostility towards China from now until forever. I would agree that based on what we’re seeing there likely isn’t much of a future for the folks who absolutely will not rest until they’ve got 臺灣共和國 on their passports, but what about the more realistic pro-independence people who simply wish to maintain Taiwanese sovereignty as it currently stands? Why would greater economic ties with China be a stake through their heart, assuming those ties do not involve the gradual undermining of Taiwanese sovereignty? Or are you strictly referring to those who demand de jure independence as well as de facto?

December 22, 2008 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

My Taiwanese friends are none too happy about the KMT mainlander rush to cozy up to Beijing. Based on their anger I predict growing resistance to Ma’s love affair with the dictators on the mainland. I hope he backs off before things get more violent and he gives the PLA hotheads an excuse to invade.

December 22, 2008 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

Raj, don’t get too upset as Taiwan and the PRC move closer together.

Why would I be upset if they move closer together? You seem to be saying you think it will all end in tears, at least for the Taiwanese.

Are they going to move closer together anyway, mainly based on mutual self-interest? Definitely.

Would it be in both countries’ interest to have large numbers of Chinese workers in Taiwan, or just China’s? Not saying it will happen, but it may well do.

You have to learn to trust my wisdom.

Assuming you are being at least somewhat serious (and not joking) I don’t think you can use “McCain lost” as a reason that you will be right on this. For one thing the matter we are discussing here is not related to US politics.

On the matter of Taiwan’s future, if there is to be no Taiwanese independence, there are many questions as to what that actually means in the long-term for Taiwan. Will it get to keep an independent military, political system, judiciary, etc? Will Beijing have rights to overrule decisions made in Taiwan, either political or judicial? Will Taiwan have to accept PLA bases? Will Taiwanese politicians have to be vetted Will Taiwan have to bow to Beijing’s views in regards to trade matters, diplomatic concerns, etc?

I’m not asking you to buy a crystal ball, but I think most people would agree that the current political set-up across the straits will not last. So if there is no formal independence then there can only be unification. Over the last few years I have heard few commentators come out and say that the once oft-repeated idea of “technical unification, effective independence” is still likely. More generally the opinions I have heard are that if there is to be unification it probably will mean political capitulation to at least a degree. So if China forces Taiwan to make up its mind in the future, if formal independence is “impossible” then your friends can “not stand for it” as much as they like – China wouldn’t take the blindest bit of notice and there’s a chance that a pro-unification KMT government might not either. If China’s demands really were that unreasonable then it really would mean a choice between formal independence or “capitulation”.

Then there’s also the frog in water scenario, where China and the unification brigade turn the heat up slowly such that by the time the water starts boiling it’s too late to get out of the pan.

Of course, all theories and such but still quite possible.

December 23, 2008 @ 1:29 am | Comment

Raj, Taiwanese are finally being ‘pragmatic’ and ‘grown up’, so none of your pertinent sounding questions are relevant. We’re all just relieved to see those unruly Taiwanese acting like adults at last.

December 23, 2008 @ 4:27 am | Comment

Hong X, I unfortunately do see it as another sign of the weakening of the independence movement. The economic crisis by itself put the issue way over on the sidelines, probably for years to come. At the same time, relations between the two countries have measurably improved. The only thing that could catalyze the independence movement again would be a move by China to threaten Taiwan, or some other outrage on China’s part that would stir a new wave of fear and loathing in Taiwan, but that is highly unlikely – expect more of the encouraging, polite conversation I quote in the post.

Raj, you should know by now that anytime I say “you have to trust my wisdom” that I am joking. Go look at the site’s motto in the upper-left-hand corner. I make claims to no wisdom at all. All those questions you raise about Taiwan’s military and what kind of changes with take place, etc – the answer is simply this: There will be no change at all, or at least no visible change. It will happen slowly. We waited for years for the direct flights. Nothing has been determined or finalized and there is still too much mutual distrust and bad blood for anything to change overnight. But both Taiwan’s leadership and the PRC’s have similar goals, namely increased cooperation and improved relations, and the benefits they bring. Now, maybe the PRC has other goals as well, like “reunification,” but that’s not on the table for now and probably won’t be for many, many years, if ever. No sense getting worked up over the technical issues like what to do with Taiwan’s military. We’re not at that point yet.

So if there is no formal independence then there can only be unification. Raj, you are actually saying if there is no formal unification there has to be independence? Did I read that correctly? Because Taiwan has been nether independent nor unified with the PRC since 1949, or at least not since 1972 after Nixon visited China.

December 23, 2008 @ 8:34 am | Comment

I unfortunately do see it as another sign of the weakening of the independence movement

Why do you say unfortunately Richard? Why are you so desirous of a divided China?

Just interested to know the reasons for your wish to divide and split the Chinese people.

In what way have the Chinese people ever offended you?

December 23, 2008 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

Sometimes i pity DPP, they are trying to reach for the heaven, but they are up against the most powerful interests in the world. Must be tough to be at odd with CCP, US and KMT, and they can’t even manage to beat KMT in an election.

Makes no mistake, even if DPP beats KMT overwhelmingly in the next election, they still have to cajole the US to forsake its own national interest with China to aid Taiwan. Finally, they have to confront China with whatever support they have from the divided populace in Taiwan. It takes that much to break the status quo.

Right now, DPP itself is so divided by the Chen Shui Bien scandal, with people supporting him silencing the moderates. Goes to show how stupid people can be. Of course, like they say, Chen Shui Bien is 70% right and only 30% wrong.

December 23, 2008 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

Liu, I think Richard lived in Taiwan before, and he has probably met a lot of people there who do not wish to join China. They achieved a lot in the past fifty years economically, and a lot in terms of democracy during the past three decades or so. From my own experience I know that many Taiwanese find it offending that they can’t decide their future on their own – and I can understand that.

December 23, 2008 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Liu, I simply don’t believe China and Taiwan have ever been “together” – certainly not long enough or close enough to view them as a single entity. There is no “divided China.” Taiwan existed and thrived as a separate entity (or whatever you choose to call it) for well over half a century, with no detriment to China whatever. I mean, Taiwan was “together” with Japan for quite a long time, so maybe they should be part of Japan?

I lived in Taiwan, and I can safely say I never met a single Taiwan resident – not one – who said they felt Taiwan was a part of the “dalu.” They laugh at such an absurd notion. That’s why in an ideal world Taiwan would be an independent country.

Unfortunately, it is not an ideal world, and the realpolitik is that Taiwan is in a unique and unenviable position, especially now, as the world turns to China for help during a global crisis. Most Taiwanese are realistic about this, I believe (I haven’t lived there for two years so can’t speak with scientific authority), and recognize, however reluctantly, that the best option is to get along as well with China as possible, to increase goodwill and open as many doors as possible, while retaining the status quo of the past 35 years. Again, in an ideal world this would not be the best option – independence would be. But we live in the real world, and full independence for Taiwan is not an option at this time. Unfortunately (forgive the redundancy, but that point is important).

December 23, 2008 @ 4:37 pm | Comment

Richard, let me put it this way: if you’re defining the Taiwan independence movement as strictly those who want an officially declared Republic of Taiwan, then you’re absolutely right, they’re going be dead in the water for a long time. But I think that would be the case irrespective of the warming of Chinese-Taiwan relations; they’re waging a political battle without any real allies and that they can’t realistically hope to win, and that’s always been the case and probably always will be while China has all the money and political influence.

If we choose to define a Taiwanese independence supporter more modestly, however…for example, someone in the vein of Lee Deng Hui, who believes it is pointless to worry about official independence when Taiwan is for all intents and purposes already independent…then I don’t see why they should be at all harmed by a warm in relations with China, as long as that warming does not involve retreat on political issues.

I doubt anyone is sitting around fuming at the prospect of more jobs. Its the political price that may be attached to stronger economic ties that worries them, not the ties themselves, and if you agree that Taiwan won’t back down when it comes to it’s own sovereignty than I think Taiwanese independence will, in practice, be just fine.

December 23, 2008 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

Okay, Hong Xiuguan – our last two comments crossed. We share pretty much the same beliefs.

December 23, 2008 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

I lived in Taiwan, and I can safely say I never met a single Taiwan resident – not one – who said they felt Taiwan was a part of the “dalu.”

Of course not part of mainland communist China – but most would have felt part of something called ‘China.’ And most would have considered themselves Chinese. Why else did they (and still) call themselves ‘Republic of China’ and in fact claimed to represent all of China (including Tibet and even Mongolia) right up to quite recently?

Saying Taiwan is part of China is different from saying the mainland government should be the legitimate government of Taiwan. One could be a fervent anti-communist, hate the mainland government and still be completely pro-unification – as many of the old guard KMT generation were.

South Korea has been separate from North Korea for a similar period of time as Taiwan from China. But North Korea is still part of Korea and South Korea is still part of Korea. Both North and South Koreans, communist and anti-communist would agree to this.

Richard just states the obvious fact that the Mainland and Taiwanhave been ruled by two different governments (both claiming all long to be Chinese governments) for a long period of time. It makes no sense to then say either the mainland or Taiwan are not part of China – just as it would not have made any sense to say East Germans were less or more German than West Germans.

December 23, 2008 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

Whatever, Liu. You are the one who says that Taiwan’s independence would mean “a divided China.” In order to have something divided, it has to have been as one. Taiwan and China were never as one, as were the two Koreas or Germanys. They were never split apart. Oh well, try again.

December 23, 2008 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

Taiwan was part of China right up until the late 19th century when Japan stole it off China.

Taiwan has in fact being recognized by most Western governments as a legitimate part of China.

The United States recognized a government seated in Taiwan, calling itself ‘Republic of China’ right up until 1978. This ROC government claimed not just sovereignty over Taiwan province but ALL of mainland China as well. In fact the US insisted in 1971 that it was the government in Taiwan that should represent ALL of China in the UN- not the PRC government.

That is pretty compelling evidence that the Taiwanese thought of themselves as Chinese, as did the Americans.

The independence movement has only gained traction over the past 10 to 15 years. However it now, thankfully, seems to be waning.

December 23, 2008 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

We’ve been through all this before. I agree, the independence movement is waning. Everything else you wrote about Taiwan being a part of China is debatable, to say the least. But please, let’s not rehash it once more. The US was once recognized as part of Great Britain. Things change. 19th century claims to land are not very relevant today.

December 23, 2008 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

19th century claims to land are not very relevant today.

Its not about a 19th century claim. Apart from a small vociferous minority on Taiwan, virtually everyone, mainland Chinese people and government, Taiwan – people and government and every single Western government consider Taiwan part of China.

Everything else you wrote about Taiwan being a part of China is debatable, to say the least. No clear irrefutable historic fact. Was there or was there not a government called Republic of China seated in Taiwan for decades, recognized by the US as the sole legitimate ruler of all of China?

The Taiwanese insist they are part of China, the mainland Chinese obviously hold Taiwan to be part of China. Both parties want the same thing – so why do people like you want so much to sow discord?

December 23, 2008 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

In order to have something divided, it has to have been as one.

Refer title of this thread. For something to reunite it must have previously been united. Thank you Richard. Obviously even you know deep down that Taiwan is part of China. Freudian slip?

December 23, 2008 @ 6:00 pm | Comment

Liu, don’t take things so literally. Everyone here knows my stand on Taiwan is that it is not a part of the PRC, but that it’s moving closer out of necessity. They also know the headline is very, very tongue in cheek. You must be new here. Humorless, too. :-)

December 23, 2008 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Everyone here knows my stand on Taiwan is that it is not a part of the PRC</i

That is not your stand. That is just obvious fact. Taiwan has never been part of the PRC.

But it is part of CHINA.

That is why the Taiwanese government has all along called itself Republic of China, and at one stage claimed to represent all of mainland China as well.

The argument was not about whether or not Taiwan was part of China. That thing only came up recently – those independence people are about as flakey as those Texas independence people.

The argument up to very recently was over which government, the PRC or the ROC should be recognized as the legitimate government of CHINA.

Up until 1978 – the US clearly held that it should be the ROC – implicit in this is the US held, forcefully, that Taiwan is part of China.

December 23, 2008 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Thanks Liu. We’ve been there. When US made that commitment it was with the understanding that, right or wrong, the legitimate government of China’s was KMT. So maybe if you said the current Taiwan government would rule the PRC I’d be willing to entertain that argument, if indeed the US’s commitment is the factor that determines what is and is not China. Anyway, enough said about this.

December 23, 2008 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

The meaning of ‘independence’ as sought by a minority of Taiwanese has nothing to do opposing being part of the PRC. They never have been, and they are not now. And the PRC does not demand this.

‘Independence’ means that Taiwan ceases to be part of the nation of China, and Taiwanese are no longer Chinese.

So even if the PRC government came to an end, Taiwan would remain Taiwan, and not part of China. So this independence thing attacks not the PRC but the very sense of nationhood of the Chinese people. That is something that is quite different from an argument simply over who should rule.

December 23, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

Thanks for sharing.

December 23, 2008 @ 6:39 pm | Comment

Raj, you are actually saying if there is no formal unification there has to be independence? Did I read that correctly?

No, I was saying that if China refuses to allow the current constitutional set-up to remain in place (i.e. forces Taiwan to come off the fence), if there is to be no formal independence then unification is the only road left open. So if Taiwan is to rule independence out then it is shooting itself in the foot and potentially giving China a lot of bargaining power.

Liu

Apart from a small vociferous minority on Taiwan…. consider Taiwan part of China.

In regards to Taiwanese, this is according to which opinion polls?

December 23, 2008 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

Raj, Liu is the same troll we had yesterday, China Say No or whatever. I should have caught on earlier.

About the point you address to me – I think if the status quo is preserved, there’s no imminent danger of China making threats. That is in no one’s interest and China knows it. If not, they’d have made threats and mobilized a long time ago.

December 23, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

Thanks for letting me know. I found his alleged point about Taiwanese thinking they’re part of China amusing. By the way will try to remember your earlier point about “wisdom” for future reference.

That is in no one’s interest and China knows it. If not, they’d have made threats and mobilized a long time ago. I think if the status quo is preserved, there’s no imminent danger of China making threats.

I think China has realised that threats didn’t get what it wanted. So it kept building up its military but kept more quiet. Now that the KMT is in charge it is in its current interests to allow things to progress with the current system – it loses nothing that way and only gains.

However, when economic/trade ties are dealt with only diplomacy and politics will remain. When that happens China will have a choice either to effectively give up on unification and essentially acknowledge Taiwanese independence (even if it can sort something up to save face), or it will have to push for actual unification. If unification were to occur the current set-up could not last where both constitutions claim to empower their governments to be the real rulers of China. If then China decides that the current arrangement is no longer in its interest for whatever reason, Taiwan may find itself with its back against the wall.

December 23, 2008 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

Well, Bao, that is a fair point – I have never understood why China/some Chinese people think that pandas can make up for the isolation and military threats that China has forced on Taiwan. Not to say that the pandas should not go to Taiwan, but if China really wants to reconcile with Taiwan in the fullest way possible it will need to make real concessions in the future.

They’re just fucking pandas. Probably to show that even though they’re politically at odds, they don’t feel as if the citizens and minor government agencies should be at each others throats as well.

Those 1,000+ missiles, for example, really do cause problems. China should not think that it can keep its arsenal, let alone expand it, and not restrict how and when relations can improve.

The missiles are as symbolic as the pandas. They can just be moved back, and besides, how many nuclear ICBMs does America have pointed at China? 5,000?

December 26, 2008 @ 5:12 am | Comment

it loses nothing that way and only gains.

Aside from rhetoric, the ROC is “gaining” more than the PRC right now. It is simply dumb to avoid profiting from China’s economy. Taiwan needs money for defense and energy, to name a few. They aren’t exactly jumping into China’s arms.

December 26, 2008 @ 5:15 am | Comment

The missiles are as symbolic as the pandas. They can just be moved back

Or they could be decommissioned (at least some of them).

besides, how many nuclear ICBMs does America have pointed at China? 5,000?

How does the US having nuclear weapons require China to maintain and enlarge a short-ranged missile stockpile for use against Taiwan?

December 26, 2008 @ 7:41 am | Comment

How does the US having nuclear weapons require China to maintain and enlarge a short-ranged missile stockpile for use against Taiwan?

I don’t think that was yourfriend’s point, Raj. Rather, I think he’s asking why there’s so much outrage against China’s having missiles pointed at Taiwan when the US is also pointing missiles at China – in other words, that this is nothing new or extraordinary. Not saying I agree, but his point isn’t that the US “has” nuclear weapons, but that some of them are pointed at China, just as some in China are pointed at Taiwan. Not saying he’s right, by the way, but the way you rephrased his point doesn’t really reflect what he said.

December 26, 2008 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

How does the US having nuclear weapons require China to maintain and enlarge a short-ranged missile stockpile for use against Taiwan?

The example is there to illustrate how pointless it is to continue to harp on about the “missile issue”. It’s not really important. China can simply move more back and have them operational within days if needed.

The point is, the U.S has thousands of nuclear ICBMs pointed at China, yet China still has a pragmatic approach to relations with America. CSB and the other DPP that you admire get too caught up on “gestures”. It’s not like either side will ever use them.

In reality the only reason why you make such a fuss about it is because when China does it, it’s bad. When America or Europe does it, it’s okay.

December 26, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Comment

yourfriend

China can simply move more back and have them operational within days if needed.

As I said, it could decommission them or not replace the older ones and/or introduce new models.

The point is, the U.S has thousands of nuclear ICBMs pointed at China, yet China still has a pragmatic approach to relations with America.

First, they can be used against anyone due to their range – China is merely a possible target. Second, China has its own nuclear arsenal so feels quite safe. Third, the US doesn’t have a territorial claim over China, has not ruled out Chinese independence and does not threaten war if China were to refuse unification indefinitely.

As for Taiwan, China’s short-ranged arsenal is of about zero use against any of its other neighbours. They can’t reach mainland Japan, for example (most can’t even hit Okinawa). So looking at their range and possible targets it’s all about intimidating Taiwan.

CSB and the other DPP that you admire get too caught up on “gestures”.

Actually many Taiwanese other than those who are DPP members don’t like the Chinese missiles.

It’s not like either side will ever use them.

Does Taiwan have thousands of missiles read to strike against China? No. So why wouldn’t China use the short-ranged missiles against Taiwan? If it thought it would be in its best interests, of course it would. Why else does it build them?

December 26, 2008 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

I think this is kind of like the censorship issue in China – the ones who get most bent out of shape about it are always people who don’t live in China. Most Taiwanese do not keep these missiles top of mind, the same way none of us who lived portions of our lives during the Cold War thought much or often about missiles pointed at us or the many weapons of the Soviet arsenal capable of destroying us many times over. Most of us have more important things to worry about, like working and taking care of family and handling life’s daily challenges. Again, I lived in Taiwan and can safely say I only heard the topic of the missiles discussed by Americans living there, never by the Taiwanese. It makes a great topic to get indignant about, but it doesn’t mean anything more than the missiles in the Cold War. Everyone knows it is not in China’s interest to deploy them (China certainly knows this most of all), and now that the two sides are “reuniting” anyway it makes them even more silly a topic for hysteria.

The missiles suck. China’s attitude toward Taiwan is kooky. But the threats, the grandstanding and the tough talk are typical of Chinese negotiators (you should have been there for the negotiations with my landlord) and no one takes seriously the notion that China would nuke Taiwan. Except, of course, either people who don’t live in Taiwan, or foreigners who go there and try to project their own vision of how governments should operate on their host nation.

So why wouldn’t China use the short-ranged missiles against Taiwan? If it thought it would be in its best interests, of course it would. Why else does it build them?

The point of building most missiles and nuclear weapons is not to use them – except for leverage. Period. Why would America invest hundreds of billions in its nuclear arsenal if it doesn’t intend to use it? Well, because it’s a statement of power and gives the government leverage and gives potential enemies pause.

December 26, 2008 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

Again, I lived in Taiwan and can safely say I only heard the topic of the missiles discussed by Americans living there, never by the Taiwanese.

I may not have lived in Taiwan, but it has come up in discussions I have had with Taiwanese. While unification is not the “hot topic” in Taiwan, the matter of the missiles will rarely rise to the top of any conversation. If or when unification is something that China starts demanding from Taiwan, or the Taiwanese government starts pushing, the matter of the missiles will rise up the agenda quite quickly. But even if it doesn’t, that they are there will make it far less likely that Taiwanese will want more than better economic ties with China. China can’t have its cake and eat it.

no one takes seriously the notion that China would nuke Taiwan

Richard, I do not believe that I mentioned Chinese nuclear weapons being used against Taiwan though you may be talking generally. Perhaps you are confusing ICBMs with the short-ranged missiles China has commissioned for possible use against Taiwan.

Yes, sometimes missiles are used for leverage, but because the missiles positioned opposite the island are conventional they can be used a lot more readily than their nuclear equivalents. Nuclear weapons are (currently) only used for leverage because their use could easily invite a response that would devastate the nation that used them. But conventional weaponry is used all the time across the world, so if China believes that military confrontation is necessary or inevitable it may well use them.

December 27, 2008 @ 1:17 am | Comment

“Let’s see now how it will resonate with the populace…”

http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2008/12/most-taiwanese-still-see-prc-as-hostile-finds-dpp-poll/

Great, now we know… Thank you Internet!

December 27, 2008 @ 4:07 am | Comment

Yeah, as a Chinese, we’re quite happy to see that. What’s more, two mainland pandas “tuantuan” and “yuanyuan” have been taken to Taipei Zoo, as a symbolic of reunification. It’s undeniable that Taiwan is the essential part of China. The unitification of the mainland and Taiwan will be realized in the near future. It’s not the economic reason that we go together, but the history, the brother-tie between Taiwanese and the mainland people,and the country interest.
In 2008, China experienced a lot,and everything does grabs our heart. Suffering and solving the 512 Sichuan earthquake, holding the Beijing Olmpic Games, successfully sending “Shenzhou7″ to space, all these demonstrate China’s growth, development and great power. We are very proud of our country, so are Twawanese. We’re in the shouders of the great Chinese nation, who will try her best to make her children grow healthily and happily!!!

December 28, 2008 @ 10:52 pm | Comment

Oy.

December 28, 2008 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

Bao, we need to be cautious with data like those. What does it mean that so many Taiwanese see the Chinese of the PRC as “hostile”? Does it mean they believe they should stop trading and cooperating with them, that they should uproot the Taiwanese factories that dominate much of Guandong and leave? Does it mean that, as in the US, the Taiwanese still regard China as a potential enemy it must nevertheless go out of its way to court and cooperate with, knowing that much of its destiny is tied to theirs? (It’s just as true for us as it is to Taiwan at the moment.) There’s always been distrust among allies, and I’m afraid right now we all have to hope we indeed are allies, as we’re all, to some extent, in this together.

I can just hear the most militant of the Taiwanese greens saying, “The economic crisis is a disease of the skin. The threat of ‘Red China’ is a disease of the heart.”

December 28, 2008 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

I doubt very much that economic closeness will convince Taiwanese to accept Chinese rule; quite the opposite. It is more likely that the current KMT administration, in which Ma is simply more or less the puppet of the Old Guard, will bring Taiwan into the China fold by silencing all those who object. Apparently China is also working to silence critics and Taiwan supporters in the US as well. Gonna be a rough few years. Fortunately, though moving faster than I dreamed, the KMT is also far more incompetent than I dreamed…..

The problem, from point of view of getting Taiwan to accept annexation, is that China will not give on any of the Taiwan questions. Just yesterday came article on a shipper with 10 flag of convenience ships who had been happily shipping building rock from China to Taiwan via third port. Now wants to ship direct but has discovered that China is only permitting — you guessed it — Chinese ships. Just as it permits Chinese tourists to Taiwan only to fly Chinese airlines, and at present limits 13 provinces to supply tourists (plans to raise this). Every Taiwanese knows that China’s promises are lies. Who would willingly join such a regime?

The Taiwanese are not “accepting the inevitable” or whatever cynicism is passing for wisdom these days among the business classes in Taipei. There’s quite a bit of resistance in the Taiwanese soul. I’m wondering whether it will wake in time, though.


Taiwan was part of China right up until the late 19th century when Japan stole it off China.

Taiwan has in fact being recognized by most Western governments as a legitimate part of China.

The United States recognized a government seated in Taiwan, calling itself ‘Republic of China’ right up until 1978. This ROC government claimed not just sovereignty over Taiwan province but ALL of mainland China as well. In fact the US insisted in 1971 that it was the government in Taiwan that should represent ALL of China in the UN- not the PRC government.

Liu, the official policy of the US government is that the status of Taiwan is undetermined, and has been since 1951. In 2007, when Chen wrote the letter to the UN, and Ban Ki-moon said Taiwan was part of China, the US and several other countries protested, “secretly”, that the status of Taiwan is undetermined.

Michael

December 29, 2008 @ 7:02 am | Comment

Having living in taiwan for 13 years I agree that for most taiwanese the missile things is not an everyday issue… but it is there as a “subconscious” issue. One of my best taiwanese friends shared with me… Should I love a mother that beats me again and again? I was quite surprised… he is 32… old enough not to be beaten up… after showing my surprise… then he said, well, you know, that is what I have been taught since I was a kid, that China is our mother… but how can I love a mother that is beating and menacing me everyday, that do not let me relate with other people and lies to me continuously (SARS, Avian flu…)?… His generation 30-40 is a schizophrenic divided one between the “we are China” education and the reality of China’s treatment (they studied all the rivers and provinces of China, while unaware of Taiwan’s rivers and mountains, or the capital of the Republic of China as nanjing -year 1996 text books- and parents telling their kids… what are you saying?). The people 20-30 is more like… Me chinese? No way, I am taiwanese. My grandpa came from China, China is an interesting place, though quite weird sometimes, but I am taiwanese. Less than 20… not sure, I left 2 years ago (go back every year twice, though), but probably in the same direction. They feel that their future is tied to China (as Germany’s future, or Poland, Spain Italy… is tied to the EU) but that does not mean (at least now) that they wish, seek, hope, expect, long… to be one country. For most of Taiwanese people do not feel it like north and south Korea, or east-west Germany. Nevertheless… education can work miracles, and at the same time, independence of thought and sources is quite developed in Taiwan… it will be difficult for the KMT to re-sinicize Taiwan as they did from 1951 to 1970. Many grass root movements (not only political ones) are pro-taiwanese, and by this I mean having Taiwan as center, in the heart, not necessarily meaning independence, just “taiwan-rooting”.

January 1, 2009 @ 2:18 am | Comment

2009! Happy merry fucking new year, all of you out there!

Enjoy it! While it last!

January 1, 2009 @ 4:00 am | Comment

To Bao, thanks, same for you!

January 1, 2009 @ 11:06 am | Comment

“The economic crisis is a disease of the skin. The threat of ‘Red China’ is a disease of the heart.”

Haha, and deep Green lunacy is a disease of the brain.

As I said, it could decommission them or not replace the older ones and/or introduce new models.

China can’t dismantle all of their SRBMs. It’s a preposterous demand. China, like all other nations, will probably have weapons. Their position is insignificant in a discussion of geopolitical “spacetime”, especially now. It’s largely symbolic.

Third, the US doesn’t have a territorial claim over China

They had no territorial claim to Iraq. Or any of their own land for that matter, but I won’t get into that.

Actually many Taiwanese other than those who are DPP members don’t like the Chinese missiles.

None of the ones in my family seem to care, but then again we aren’t easily scared.

So why wouldn’t China use the short-ranged missiles against Taiwan?

Because the Taiwanese military is at least capable of doing significant damage to coastal cities in China. Nothing would be gained. I can see it if petro-.. er, WMD, were involved, but the risk/reward is too great.

January 2, 2009 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

Aside from rhetoric, the ROC is “gaining” more than the PRC right now. It is simply dumb to avoid profiting from China’s economy. Taiwan needs money for defense and energy, to name a few. They aren’t exactly jumping into China’s arms.

January 8, 2010 @ 10:29 am | Comment

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